Jeffrey Goldberg named editor-in-chief of The Atlantic
Goldberg has been on the staff of the magazine since 2007, and before that was Washington correspondent at The New Yorker
The Atlantic has a new editor, Jeffrey Goldberg. Goldberg has been with the magazine since 2007, before that being Washington correspondent at The New Yorker. He is the author of Prisoners: A Muslim & A Jew Across the Middle East Divide.
Goldberg began his career as a police reporter for The Washington Post, later became a writer for The New York Times Magazine.
“Jeff’s career as a reporter, writer, and commentator exemplifies Atlantic editorial values: he’s smart, creative, resourceful, and iconoclastic—and has a sense of humor to go with his core commitment to fairness and integrity,” said Bob Cohn, president of The Atlantic. “He takes over as editor in chief at a time when our digital and video teams are reaching more people and having more impact than ever before, and when the magazine cover is rightly seen by many as the most valuable real estate in American journalism.”
Goldberg will be seen as an interesting, maybe odd, choice for the magazine. He was in favor of the war in Iraq, and his later admission that he was wrong about the war had less to do with being against armed aggression in the Middle East that it was disappointment that President Bush incompetently prosecuted the war.
“I wasn’t sure there was an alternative to Saddam’s removal, in part because the sanctions regime was collapsing. I believed that Saddam’s nuclear ambitions posed an almost immediate threat to national security. I believed that Saddam was a supporter of terrorism,” Goldberg wrote in 2008.
“A long time ago, I was certain that the Iraq invasion would be seen as a moral victory. Most Americans quite obviously do not see it this way. But on my last trip to Iraq, four months ago, I learned that many of Saddam’s victims continue to see the invasion as a triumph of justice.”
Below is the staff announcement:
My Colleagues in Atlantic Media,
After six months of elapsed time, hundreds of names to review, and scores of potential candidates to meet, Bob Cohn and I are pleased to announce that we have asked Jeffrey Goldberg to step forward as The Atlantic’s 14th editor-in-chief. And, the higher hurdle as it turned out, Jeff accepted.
A Not-Incidental Search
I suppose the most heart-felt finding from the search was Bob’s – that wars between nations are won faster than David thinks through an editor search. It is fair to say that, together, we met a great deal of the nation’s top editorial talent. A hundred journalists with the most-respected U.S. and U.K. publications recommended to us just under 500 people as the current and next generation stars to meet. For this moment in time, I think Bob and I know the next-generation leadership at The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal, The New Yorker, and so forth as well as do those publications’ own owners.
But, at least for us, Jeff is something set apart. At the outset of the search, one of the nation’s legendary editors asked: “Have you focused on Jeff Goldberg? There’s no greater journalist writing in the country today.”
As background only, here is Jeff’s story in brief: raised in New York, Jeff attended the University of Pennsylvania, where he edited the Daily Pennsylvanian. Beginning his career as a crime reporter for The Washington Post, Jeff moved through The Jerusalem Post, The Forward, New York magazine, The New York Times Magazine and The New Yorker. Jeff joined The Atlantic in 2007. Across his nearly-10 years with us, Jeff has written many of our most-successful cover stories, including this year’s “The Obama Doctrine,” and has interviewed many world leaders on our behalf including King Abdullah of Jordan, Cuba’s Fidel Castro, Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel, and the former British Prime Minister David Cameron.
Thinking Through this Appointment
Over time, I’ve come to have great sympathy for the 21st-century editor. Our species does not create, in one individual, so full an offering of human talent. The editor in chief of a great publication is asked to be a public figure, a live performer, a leader of talent, a driving news force, a culture commentator, a long-form editor, a cover story genius, a packaging genius, a digital strategist, a social media practitioner, a video producer, a new product creator, and so forth. In the end, therefore, the selection of an editor becomes a question of which virtue to privilege.
As with James Bennet and Michael Kelly before him, Jeff was first a great journalist. He is, in himself, the property we prize. Our confidence in Jeff is that, understanding talent, Jeff will lead a great-talent enterprise. And that, of course, is The Atlantic’s salient comparative advantage in the scrum of modern media – that The Atlantic was created to be the great talent destination.
None of this is to say that the particular format of Jeff’s best-known writing—long-form narrative for the print magazine—is the center or circumference of our work. In the world of modern media, The Atlantic needs to be a run-away success online, on social media, in video and in live events. Jeff’s assignment is to make The Atlantic an unequaled talent destination for all our editorial disciplines. It is talent, not format, that has drawn us to Jeff.
A Harder Call for Jeff
In the end, the editor appointment was a harder call for Jeff than it was for Bob and me. The move suggested a near-complete reorientation of Jeff’s professional life, from a narrower focus on his own writing to the work and careers of a large staff. I was not with Jeff and his wife, Pamela, for those conversations; one can imagine they ran deep. But, Jeff resurfaced from a weekend’s thought committed to the larger Atlantic proposition and to what we all take to be the privilege of leading this exceptional staff.
(Jeff faced as well a largely-logistical issue. Some time back, Jeff agreed to write for Simon & Schuster what will be his second book. With our complete blessing, Jeff will take leave to fulfill that commitment when he feels the time is right.)
The Weeks Ahead
Starting this week, Jeff will take the reins of leadership. Reporting directly to Bob, Jeff will lead a cabinet of Scott Stossel, John Gould, Kasia Ciaplak-Mayr von Baldegg, and a creative director to succeed Darhil Crooks. As he explained it to me, Jeff intends to begin his work “reporting the story” – that is to say interviewing the staff and other industry leaders on their work and their thoughts for The Atlantic.
Bob and I want to close by thanking Scott, John, Kasia, Sommer and the editorial team at AtlanticLive – Margaret, Steve and Rob – for leading The Atlantic’s work these last six months. Jeff will find what James found before him, that he joins a leadership team as fine in disposition as they are in talent.
Finally, for those Atlantic staff in the Washington office, Bob and I intend to convene a meeting in the 3rd-floor newsroom, this morning at 10:00 am, to introduce Jeff as our new editor. For those in New York, Bob and Jeff plan a Friday visit to our offices. For those in London, for every reason under the sun, I’m sorry we won’t be with you.
I close with my best wishes to all.